Smoking: The Affects on the Lungs

Smoking causes over 443,000 deaths in the United States each year that could have been prevented while second hand smoke kills over 50,000 people each year.

Smoking cigarettes allows you to be exposed to over 49 different carcinogens including formaldehide and ammonia. Every puff you take forces your lungs to work harder to oxygenate other cells in the body. In addition to this, it also depletes Elastin, an enzyme in the lungs which allows them to be more flexible. With depletion in elastin, you become more susceptible to emphysema.

Tar is inhaled from a cigarette which coats lungs. This tar not only damages your lungs, but your heart as well. For this reason, smoking causes 160,000 deaths in the United States every year. In addition to these negative effects, smoking also rises blood pressure and increases clotting time which then leads to stroke.

Effects of Smoking on the lungs:

The lungs contain tiny air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli are responsible for the exchange of oxygen and gases through a thin layer of epithelial cells. The surface of alveoli are covered with a thin layer of pulmonary surfactant that keeps the alveoli from collapsing on exhalation. Smoking causes damage to the alveoli, preventing their ability to receive oxygen from the blood. Smoking causes 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women.

Lung Cancer:

You don’t necessarily have to smoke to get lung cancer. There are reported cases of people who have died from lung cancer who have never smoked in their lives. Of 20,000 new cases, ten to fifteen percent of these new cases are people who never smoked. Other causes of lung cancer include:

Second-hand smoke Arsenic Asbestos Chromium Radon gas – the number one cause of lung cancer in those who don’t smoke. Excessive exposure to radiation

How lung cancer develops:

Exposure to carcinogens in the air are the root cause of lung cancer. These are usually found in the air in our homes, work or environment. These carcinogens lead to lesions on the lungs which then become tumors. These growths can be benign which means non cancerous or malignant meaning cancerous. As they grow, the tumors begin to put pressure on other nearby organs resulting in severe pain. Unfortunately, most lung cancers are not detected until they are in their later stages.

Treatment for lung cancer?

Treatment is totally dependent upon the type and extent of the malignancy, as well as the patient’s health. Choice of treatments includes surgical intervention, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these choices. Clinical trials of new and innovative procedures are another avenue that can be taken. Your doctor will have information on clinical trials that may be available to take part in.

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